Bill seeks to tackle “endless threat” of strike action
The Trade Union Bill, which proposes a time limit on ballots so that mandates for industrial action are always recent, is to receive its second reading in parliament today.
Under current laws, the ongoing London Underground and First Great Western industrial action could carry on for years.
Currently there are a number of live mandates for industrial action that are more than two years old. These include:
– The NUT ballots in 2011 and 2012, which have resulted in eight national and regional strikes. The last strike, in July 2014, closed around a fifth of schools.
– An FBU 2013 ballot, which has resulted in 49 strikes over a two year period.
Business secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is a one nation government acting in the interests of the whole country, and these reforms will stop the endless threat of strike action hanging over hard-working people.
“Trade unions play an important role and deserve our respect. But when working people’s lives are being disrupted by strike action, it is only fair that this happens as a result of a contemporary mandate that is supported by the majority of union members.”
Employment minister Nick Boles added: “Working people need to know they can get on with their lives without unjustified disruption. These modernising reforms will ensure strikes only happen as a result of a clear, positive and recent decision by those entitled to vote.”
Reforms in the Bill include:
– A 50% threshold for ballot turn-out in all industrial action votes.
– An additional threshold of 40% of support to take industrial action from all members eligible to vote in the key health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning sectors.
– The requirement of a clear description of the trade dispute and the planned industrial action on the ballot paper, so that all union members are clear what they are voting for.